We have more tools for communication than ever before, yet somehow we can be left feeling more disconnected than ever. Powerful technology tools are designed to improve your company’s performance. Still, it’s easy to lose sight of the actual human beings using these tools, and our technology solutions can quickly devolve into chaos.
In the digital workplace, we have the ability to connect 24/7. Technology provides us with incredible benefits: efficiency, communication, empowerment, and flexibility just to name a few. As leaders, we must establish clear boundaries to ensure we aren’t overloading our teams with overlapping technology, overwhelming them with too many updates, or neglecting to provide clarity and vision around why we’re using these tools in the first place.
If we take a step back from the tech stack to look at the people in our company, we can begin to be honest about what our employees actually need to succeed in their work and feel engaged in our culture, rather than getting swept up in a technology tornado.
The Technology Tornado:
What it is: the technology tornado is created when your tech stack converges with your communication tools. In our continuous effort to optimize, automate, and communicate, we add tool upon tool, each with its own communication channel.
What it does: if we’re not strategic in our selection and implementation of our tech tools, this tech tornado creates system weariness, information overload, and digital inefficiencies. The employee experience suffers, which means your company suffers.
What Can We Do?
In order to harness the power of your tech tornado rather than allowing your people to be swept up in it, we have a few suggestions.
Empower Human Resources to Take A Leadership Role in Technology Decisions
HR & Talent leaders place significant value on company culture and employee experience, and this includes employees’ interaction with the technology leaders provide them. HR & Talent leaders should have a seat at the table where tech choices are being made, and executives should want to include these voices who are advocating for the needs of your most valuable resource: your people. Employees go to HR with their feedback, and HR needs to be able to speak confidently about the company's decisions.
If you’re an HR & Talent leader who doesn’t feel empowered to lean into tech decisions, here are just a few ways to dive in and learn about tech solutions and how they might interact with and benefit your industry: :
- Ask for a demo
- Set up 1:1 time with an internal expert at your company
- Search for free online training videos
- Consult Google, YouTube, and ChatGPT
Build a Playbook of Best Practices Surrounding Technology
Start by addressing the type of work environment you have. Are your employees remote? In-person? Hybrid? If executives are in the office while the main employee population is on a manufacturing floor, your work environment is in-person. If executives are working remotely while the main employee population is on a manufacturing floor, your work environment is hybrid.
Hybrid is often interpreted as 2 days at home with 3 days in-office when in reality, hybrid could mean different roles have different work environments. Considering where people work should impact how they work and what tools you provide them.
Next, know your industry. Are you in manufacturing? Medical? Education? Services? Technology? What tech solutions best serve your industry? How did the pandemic impact both your work environment and your industry? The pace of change has accelerated significantly, and the pandemic drastically changed entire industries; staying on top of what is happening is important.
Then, audit your technology. Make a list of all of the technology platforms your company currently uses in each department. Identify:
- The platform’s purpose? What does it do?
- Who uses it?
- How much do they use it (daily? weekly? monthly?)
- What’s the cost?
- What is the impact on employees? (Consider surveying to gather this information)
- What services do we need to learn more about?
- What platforms overlap?
- Are there technology gaps?
Finally, consider the impact of your current technology on the different generations that support your organization. How can you leverage technology best for each generation?
"According to a study by the Pew Research Center, "Millennials" are the first generation to have grown up with digital technology as a central part of their lives.
They tend to be more comfortable with technology than previous generations and are more likely to expect their employers to provide them with the latest digital tools and resources.”
- "Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change." Pew Research Center, 2010
Gen Z, Baby Boomers, Millennials, and Gen X may each approach the same tech solution differently. Learn their preferences, worldviews, and how they work best.
This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget: as you consider adding or eliminating technology from your tech stack, clearly communicate the why behind every change. Employees are more likely to support leadership decisions when the why is clearly articulated, early, and often. Note: If you can’t clearly identify and articulate why you are adding or removing a tech tool, you may not need to make a change; at least, you’re not ready to.
No matter our role in our organizations, at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that it’s all about people.
"From AI and machine learning to virtual reality and collaboration tools, we are always exploring new and innovative ways to enhance the employee experience and drive business outcomes. However, technology is only part of the equation. To truly create a culture of innovation and excellence, we must also invest in our people, empowering them with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in an ever-changing digital landscape."
- Fran Katsoudas, EVP and Chief People Officer at Cisco
Want to learn more about Employee Engagement? Check out these additional resources:
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